- The report indicates many of the physical health issues youths face today are caused by bad experiences in childhood.
- According to the Kenya Adolescent Health Survey, more than half (54.5 per cent) of all adolescents who participated in the study reported having experienced one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Many youths who suffer unexplained physical pains may need to look back to their childhood for answers.
Medics are now linking these symptoms —including physical symptoms that cannot be accounted for by any recognised physical or mental illness —to adverse mental experiences in childhood.
According to the Kenya Adolescent Health Survey, more than half (54.5 per cent) of all adolescents who participated in the study reported having experienced one or more adverse childhood experiences.
The experiences include being physically, or emotionally abused, and neglect.
Years later, this distress manifests as physical symptoms, called somatic symptoms.
“At least 21.5 per cent of the adolescents who had adverse childhood experiences reported somatic symptoms, 18.1 per cent reported repetitive thoughts and behaviour, 13.1 per cent reported substance use while 10.8 per cent reported depressive symptoms,” the survey shows.
It was released by the Ministry of Health on Friday.
“When comparing those who reported one or more adverse childhood experiences with those who had no adverse childhood experiences, it was found that the ones with adverse childhood experiences reported more mental health-related problems than those who never experienced adverse childhood experiences,” the report said.
The report indicates many of the mental health issues youths face today are caused by bad experiences in childhood.
It comes as the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) said it is developing an amendment to the existing laws to combat the menace of online selling of alcohol to teens.
Nacada Acting CEO John Muteti has acknowledged the online sale of alcoholic substances has been a great hindrance to the fight against abuse.
Despite this, the current laws were drafted long before the growth and penetration of internet services in the country.
“Even children who are young now can access the internet so they can access all these manners of drugs, they can buy alcohol online and that has made the situation worse,” he says.
“The law is not very clear about online sales. So, we are coming up with an amendment to the law which will ensure that the online sale of such things like beers and others are regulated,” Muteti said.
He said despite the law barring the sale of alcohol to underage consumers, online sellers take orders and make deliveries without demanding proof of age.
Most of the sellers, he said, are out to make profits at the expense of the future of the consumers they are selling the products to.
“We want to ensure that not everybody can access such kinds of things online. We want to have very strict safety that nobody can sell this kind of drink to underage and if they do, then there will be strict penalty.”
The latest report released by Nacada in May showed that children as young as six years are now being initiated into the vice.
The law stipulates alcohol should not be sold to individuals who have not attained the age of 18 years.
The report shows the age of initiation for tobacco use was six years, seven years for alcohol, eight years for cannabis, nine years for khat and eight years for prescription drugs.
The minimum age for initiation for heroin and cocaine is 18 and 20 years respectively.
From the report, one in every 11 youth aged 15 to 24 years translating to 632,846 youth were currently using at least one drug or substance of abuse.